ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran have agreed to extend full support to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned efforts for peace in Afghanistan.
This consensus was reached during the 10th round of Pak-Iran Bilateral Political Consultations held here. Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Syed Abbas Araghchi led their respective delegations at the meeting.
An official statement about the meeting said: “It was noted that fully supporting an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process was the best way to overcome the serious security and politico-economic challenges faced by Pakistan and Iran.”
The two neighbours also agreed on having a “coordinated approach” on Afghanistan for “safeguarding their core interests”.
Understanding reached for enhancing bilateral trade to $5bn
The statement noted that “Pakistan and Iran, as the major geographic neighbours of Afghanistan, also have commonality of views and future approach to restore complete peace and stability in the country”.
The two countries expressed their concern over the rise of new terrorist outfits like the militant Islamic State group, or Daesh, in Afghanistan due to prolonged instability there.
They, moreover, recalled other challenges, like narcotics trade, illegal migration and refugees, they faced because of the protracted Afghan conflict.
The meeting also reviewed progress on the measures that had previously been agreed by the two countries for enhancing trade.
There is an agreement to increase their annual trade to $5 billion. In this regard the two sides deliberated on steps like facilitation of business communities, scaling down of trade barriers and speedy progress on facilitating preferential trade.
It was agreed that the 21st session of the Joint Economic Commission would be held early next year and steps would be taken to further improve railway connectivity between the two countries.
“Ways and means were also discussed to facilitate the growing number of Zaireen [pilgrims] traveling every year to Iran from Pakistan,” the statement added.
Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2018